Year Date Events
2000 1 January Diocesan Jubilee Year 2000 celebration at Hong Kong Stadium, So Kon Po. Various Jubilee Year activities were held throughout this year, including local pilgrimages to nine designated places, celebrations for religious, the elderly and disabled, and a Eucharistic congress.
4 March Opening Ceremony of the Diocesan Synod (at Cathedral) and its First Plenary Assembly (at Catholic Diocese Centre), participated by about 200 Church members and some Christian leaders as observers. Seven drafting groups were to deal respectively with formation of the laity and lay ministry, youth ministry, social concerns, evangelization, marriage and family life, education and culture, and vocation promotion and ongoing formation for diocesan priests. To allow for fuller representation of the English-speaking faithful, a committee for the evaluation of pastoral ministry to foreigners was set up in August.
1 May The second Diocesan Pastoral Centre for Workers was established at Star of the Sea Church, Chaiwan.
22 May Diocesan Guidelines for Pastoral Ministry to Foreigners promulgated.
14 June SAR Government announced membership of Election Committee for the second Legislative Council elections in September. Of the seventeen Catholics who applied for membership, seven (six laymen and a diocesan priest) were chosen by the Constitutional Affairs Bureau to sit on the Committee, in accordance with the passive compliance stance of the Diocese.
9 July A 26-episolde TV religious programme entitled <The Beginning & the End> (Alpha & Omega), launched by the Diocesan Audio-Visual Centre, began to be broadcast on Cable TV.
13 August St. Francis Xavier Parish, Choi Wan Estate, Kowloon, suppressed and incorporated into Holy Family Parish, Choi Hung Estate.
1 October St. Vincents Parish, Wong Tai Sin, Kowloon, suppressed and incorporated into Mother of Good Counsel Parish, San Po Kong.
  120 Chinese martyrs (87 natives and 33 foreign missionaries) canonized by Pope John Paul II at the Vatican. The canonization was sternly condemned by the Chinese Government, on the allegations that those martyrs were accomplices of Western imperialists and colonialists who had oppressed China, that some of the martyrs were morally corrupt, and that the date chosen for the canonization - the National Day of China - was intended as an insult to the people of China. From September to November, celebrations of the Diocese and various religious communities were held as scheduled, despite the request of the Liaison Office of the Central Government in the SAR that religious celebrations should preferably keep a low profile. There were also heated debates among the media, regarding not only the canonization as such but also the issue of religious freedom in the SAR, under the One Country, Two Systems arrangement enforced since the 1997 transition.
2001 1 January An evangelization rally to mark the closing of the Great Jubilee of the year 2000 in Hong Kong and the journey of the Church towards the Third Millennium of Christ's Saving Grace was held at the Hong Kong Stadium.
8 August Caritas Francis Hsu College upgraded by the Education Department and registered under the Post Secondary Colleges Ordinance, Cap. 320, following an Institutional Review conducted by the Hong Kong Council for Academic Accreditation.
10 November Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church (rebuilt), Wanchai, blessed.
December The Diocese took the lead in defending the right to schooling of Mainland-born children whose parents were Hong Kong residents and who were on recognizance, waiting judicial sentence on their claim to the right of abode in Hong Kong. Along with several local schools, two Catholic private schools, namely, St. Joan of Arc Primary School and Ng Wah College (Primary Section, AM Session) admitted those children with special tuition arrangements. In response to public opinion, especially to the appeal of the legal and educational circles, the Immigration Department finally agreed to review previous requests for schooling, on a case-by-case basic.
30 December Closing Ceremony of the Diocesan Synod was held at the Cathedral, during which the seven drafting groups presented 177 Synodal resolutions to Cardinal John B. Wu. From among these, ten priorities had previously been chosen by Synodal members. These priorities aimed at deepening the Christian formation of the lay people; promoting the catechumenate, basic ecclesial communities and Christian marriage and family life; youth ministry in parishes and Catholic schools; more involvement in social justice issues by Church leaders and other Church members; active participation in evangelization; the establishing of a local Catholic university.
The recommendations of a special committee for foreigners were also submitted.
2002 1 January Holy Spirit Parish, Homantin, Kowloon, suppressed and amalgamated with Mary Help of Christians Parish, Ma Tau Wai, Kowloon.
2 May A local newspaper, South China Morning Post, gave a front-page report on three Catholic priests in Hong Kong alleged to have sexually abused minors during the episcopate of Cardinal John B. Wu. In the following weeks, other allegations involving local priests and religious rocked the Catholic Church and seriously undermined her public image. These events raised the awareness of the general public and of the Catholic Church about the need to protect minors against sexual abuse. It was decided to form an inter-disciplinary committee under the Diocese for the protection of minors against sexual abuse in Church institutions.
4 August Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Sau Mau Ping, Kowloon, suppressed and amalgamated with Resurrection Parish, Kwun Tong, Kowloon.
8 September Cardinal John B. Wu promulgated the deliberations and pastoral priorities of the Diocesan Synod (4 March 2000 - 30 December 2001). In a Pastoral Letter entitled Love life, the gift of God!”, he outlined a ten-year plan for the implementation of the top ten pastoral priorities of the Synod.
23 September Cardinal John B. Wu, whose health had been deteriorating since mid-June, passed away, aged 77, and was immediately succeeded by his Coadjutor, Bishop Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, SDB. Cardinal Wu’s funeral, held on 28 September, was officiated by Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe (塞佩樞機), Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
6 October St. Jerome’s Church, Tin Shui Wai, New Territories, blessed.
20 October Eucharistic celebration in the Cathedral on the commencement of the pastoral ministry of Bishop Joseph Zen, SDB, as the 6th Bishop of the Diocese of Hong Kong.
  Especially during the second half of this year, the Diocese and various Christian groups joined the legal profession, human rights organizations and other sectors of society in voicing out their reservations about the proposed anti-subversion laws, required under Article 23 of the Basic Law. It was worried that these laws, if enacted without a thorough consultation process including a white bill”, could easily lead to violations of basic civil rights in future. The Diocese also expressed her concern over the Education (Amendment) Bill 2002, about to be passed by the Legislative Council. Once enacted, the new legislation would likely play down the role of the Church in running Catholic schools and in promoting Catholic education.
2003 21 February - 23 June An atypical viral pneumonia, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), dealt a heavy blow to all sectors of Hong Kong and brought public life practically to a standstill. Preventive hygiene measures and quarantines were enforced by the government, especially for infected areas, hospitals, schools and crowed or public places. Hong Kong was declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) as unsafe for tourists and visitors. The diocese likewise carried out provisional pastoral measures on hygienic grounds. Death toll stood at 296 when WHO announced Hong Kong SARS-free on 23 June.
1 July Half a million Hong Kong people, including many Catholics, took to the streets in a landmark protest against the government for hastily enacting the National Security Bill” under Article 23 of the Basic Law of Hong Kong without wide and thorough consultations. There was much concern that the proposed legislation, aiming at outlawing such offences as treason, secession, sedition and subversion, could easily lead to violation of fundamental human rights. Bishop Joseph Zen, SDB, took part in a prayer gathering at Victoria Park before the mass protest began. On 7 July the government decided to defer the second reading of the controversial Bill, originally scheduled to be put a vote by the Legislative Council on 9 July.
17 August Eight members of the radical Rainbow Action homosexual rights group disrupted a Sunday Mass at the Catholic Cathedral.  They were provoked by the Church’s opposition to homosexual “marriages”, as set forth in a document issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on 3 June 2003, entitled “Considerations regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons”.  Subsequently Bishop Joseph Zen, SDB, met with representatives of various homosexual rights groups to clarify the Church’s stand and reaffirmed that she had no discrimination against homosexual persons as such.
19 October Mission Sunday celebration at the Hong Kong Stadium, programmes including (1) public recitation of the rosary to conclude the Year of the Rosary (October 2002 - October 2003) proclaimed by Pope John Paul II, and (2) inauguration of a Year of Evangelization (lasting until Easter 2005) as recommended by the Diocesan Synod.
  This Year Caritas-Hong Kong, the social service arm of the diocese, reached its 50th anniversary. It pledged to carry on its option for the poor, the needy and the socially marginalized by coping with cuts in government funding and the new government policy of community-based integrated social services.
  During this year the diocese also attended to the following matters:
   introducing a healthcare and retirement scheme for priests and religious with the assistance of Catholic medical professionals;
   establishing the Diocese Finance Council in accordance with the Code of Canon Law, with a Provisional Diocesan Finance Committee during a two-year preparatory period (1 August 2003 - 31 July 2005);
   dialogues with the government in regard to the “Education (Amendment) Bill 2002” jointly with other representatives of the Association of School Sponsoring Bodies;
   considerations for assigning pastoral workers to Catholic schools.
(5)   establishing the Concern Group for Sexual Abuse of Minors in Diocesan Organizations.
7 December The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception received the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Conservation Award.
2004 1 July Following a prayer gathering at Victoria Park attended also by Bishop Joseph Zen, SDB, many Catholics joined thousands of other citizens in a peaceful anti-government march.  The main issue was for more democracy, particularly for the SAR Chief Executive and the Legislative Council to be elected by universal suffrage in 2007 and 2008 respectively.  The march witnessed to a deepened social awareness and a craving for democracy on the part of the public, who was motivated not just by economic wellbeing.
20 September The diocese issued some regulations regarding hygiene of church premises, the Eucharist and other sacraments.
23 - 24 October To celebrate Mission Sunday, an evangelization rally and Eucharistic concelebration were held at the Hong Kong Coliseum, Hunghom.  This occasion also marked the opening of the Year of the Eucharist (Oct. 2004 - Oct. 2005), proclaimed by Pope John Paul II for the universal Church with the main theme of “The Eucharist as the Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church”.  The diocese planned for a series of activities to achieve two main goals set by the Holy Father, namely, the revival of Sunday Mass as the original feast day of the Church, and an increase in Eucharistic worship outside Mass.
1 - 4 November Liturgists and members of the Liturgy Commissions of Asian countries and regions (including Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong) attended the “Asian Liturgy Forum” in Taipei to study the Instruction “Redemptionis Sacramentum” (with norms for the Eucharistic celebration) issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments on 23 April 2004.  Recommendations were made for adapting the Holy See norms to the Asian context.
20 November Education (Amendment) Bill 2004 passed by the Legislative Council on 8 July.  Under the new Ordinance, effective on 1 January 2005, every aided school is required before 2010 to form an incorporated management committee (IMC) whose members should include elected representatives of teachers, parents of students and alumni, as well as other independent persons, with a view to promoting a school-based management.  It was the concern of the Church that, as a sponsoring body, she would no longer be empowered in the future to supervise the schools under her sponsorship, nor be able to achieve her goals and objectives in Catholic education.  In a circular letter dated 20 November, Bishop Joseph Zen, SDB, urged all Catholic schools to retain their current structure, without forming the IMC before 2010.  However, to promote a participatory governance framework for stakeholders, they should form a “School Executive Committee” at the functional level within the current school year.  Such a body, proposed by the Education Commission Report No. 7 in 1997, would include representatives of teachers, parents and alumni as members.  Catholic schools were also urged to identify potential school managers who shared the vision of the Catholic Church in education.
  During this year a centralized, computerized system for keeping pastoral data and parish census records were introduced, linking the diocese and parishes and the parishes between themselves.
2005 10 March Mr. Tung Chee-hwa (董建華) resigned as Chief Executive of the Hong Kong SAR and Mr. Donald Tsang Yam-kuen (曾蔭權), Chief Secretary, took over as Acting Chief Executive. Election of the new Chief Executive was scheduled for 10 July.
2 April Pope John Paul II passed away at 9:37pm. Three million Catholics and other flocked to the Vatican to pay homeage to him. In Hong Kong, two Masses at the Cathedral to commemorate him, on 4 April (evening) and on 7 April (morning), were attended respectively by more than six thousand Catholics. There was wide media coverage locally and abroad on the late Holy Fathers as a staunch promoter of justice, world peace and the solidarity of the human family.
25 April Solemn Mass at the Cathedral to pray for the new Pope, Benedict XVI (教宗本篤十六世), as he began his pontificate (24 April).
8 May Closing ceremony of the “Year of the Evangelization” at Hong Kong Coliseum, with “New Culture of Evangelization” as main theme.
16 June Mr. Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, supported by 710 members of the 796-member Election Committee, won the election campaign for the post of Chief Executive.
24 June Mr. Donald Tsang Yam-kuen sworn in as new SAR Chief Executive.
15-19 August The diocese hosted the first East Asian Meeting on Women, sponsored by the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences.
16-18 August Holy Spirit Seminary College hosted the 3rd International Philarchisophia Symposium, attended by scholars from Hong Kong. Taiwan and mainland China.
3 November “The Centre for Catholic Studies” established in the Department of Cultural and Religious Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, with a donation of 7 million dollars from the diocese.
5-6 November Following a series of seminars, eucharistic devotions and retreats, the “Year of the Eucharist” was concluded at Christ the King Chapel, Causeway Bay.
7-12 November The annual retreat of the Catholic clergy of Hong Kong was held at Jinzi Retreat House, Shanghai.
27-30 November More than 300 delegates from 18 Asian countries attended the 9th Asian Regional Conference of CICIAMS (International Catholic Committee of Nurses and Medico-Social Assistants) at the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine, with “Healthy Family: Our Mission as Careers” as main theme. It was hosted by the Hong Kong Catholic Nurses’ Guild and attended by Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan (駱山諾樞機), President of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers.
4 December An estimated 250,000 citizens took part in a rally to protest against the “Package of Proposals for the Methods for Selecting the Chief Executive in 2007 and for Forming the Legislative Council in 2008”, brought forward by the Fifth Report of the Constitutional Development Task Force under the SAR Government. Bishop Joseph Zen, SDB, was one of the most outspoken critics of this constitutional reform bill, which did not lay down a precise road map or timetable for introducing universal suffrage, as stipulated by the Basic Law (Art. 45), in the light of the actual situation of Hong Kong and in accordance with the principal of gradual and orderly progress.
6 December The diocese submitted an application to the High Court for a judicial review of the constitutionality of the “Education (Amendment) Ordinance 2004” in relation to the Basic Law of Hong Kong (Arts. 136, 137, 141).
13-18 December The SAR Government hosted the Sixth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. A few thousand protesters against “globalization” arrived from various countries. Ultimately some of them resorted to violence. Bishop Joseph Zen, SDB, and human rights advocates condemned the ill-treatment and arrest of about 900 peaceful protesters by the police.
21 December The constitutional reform package of the SAR Government was voted down with 34 Legislators in favour. 24 against and one abstention.
2006 22 February Together with fourteen prelates worldwide, Bishop Joseph Zen, SDB, was created Cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI. A diocesan delegation attended the installation ceremonies for the new Cardinals at the Vatican on 24-25 March.
4 May After the illicit ordination of Fr. Joseph Ma Yinglin (馬英臨神父) as Bishop of Kunming (30 April) and of Fr. Liu Xinhong (呂新紅神父) as Bishop of Wuhu (3 May), arranged by the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and without papal mandate, both the Holy See and Cardinal Joseph Zen, SDB, condemned such violation of the rights of the Church.
7 May St. Joseph’s Chapel, Yim Yin Tsai Village, Sai Kung, received a Culture heritage conservation “Award of Merit” under the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards scheme.
30 July - 5 August Asian Youth Day IV was hosted by our diocese, the main theme being “Youth: The Hope of Asian Families”. It was held at YMCA Wu Kai Sha Youth Village and participated approximately by 250 local youths, 30 youths from mainland China and 500 delegates from 24 other countries, mainly Asian.
31 August To streamline diocesan structures and to make the best use of diocesan resources, the Diocesan Commission for Laity Formation and the corresponding Diocesan Office were dissolved. Parishes and deaneries were expected to play a more active role in the formation of lay people in the future.
8 November Of the nineteen Catholics applying to serve on the Election Committee for the election of the SAR Chief Executive in 2007, seven were chosen by drawing lots by a returning officer for the Religious Subsector.
14 November The “Centre for Religious and Spirituality Education” under The Hong Kong Institute of Education was established with donations from the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong (3 million dollars), the Anglicans, Taoists and Buddhists.
19 November St. Andrew’s Church, Tseung Kwan O, blessed.
23 November Following a judicial review of the “Education (Amendment) Ordinance 2004”, the Court of First Instance dismissed the claim of the diocese that the Ordinance infringed the Basic Law. The Court ruled that the protection of religious freedom did not entitle Church organization to veto public education policies. In order to implement a school-based management policy, the amended Ordinance requires every subsidized school to set up, by 2010 at the latest, an incorporated management committee (IMC), 40% of its members being elected representatives of parents, teachers and alumni, and 60% being appointed by the sponsoring body. After the judicial review, the diocese publicly pledged to continue its commitment to education, but also made an appeal directly to the Court of Final Appeal.
December The diocese decided to establish a Finance Commission and to appoint a Financial Administrator as from January 2007, in accordance with cann. 492-494 of the Code of Canon Law.
4 December China illicitly ordained Fr. Wang Renlei (王仁雷神父) as Coadjutor Bishop of Xuzhou, without papal mandate. Both the Holy See and Cardinal Joseph Zen issued strong statements of condemnation.
12 December Cardinal Joseph Zen sent a letter to Catholic schools and Caritas Social Centres, encouraging them to provide their premises as “polling stations” for an “opinion poll” to be launched by the democratic camp, on the need for introducing universal suffrage in Hong Kong.
2007   With a view to promoting family life as recommended by the Diocesan Synod (2000-2001), the years 2007-2008 were designated as “Year of the Family”.
March The Post-Diocesan Synod Monitoring Committee submitted its first report (for the period Sept. 2003 - Sept 2005), reviewing the implementation of the resolutions of the Synod by diocesan commissions and offices.
19 March Cardinal Joseph Zen, SDB, who turned 75 last January, was notified by Cardinal Ivan Dias (狄亞士樞機), Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, that Pope Benedict XVI had decided not to accept his repeated requests for retirement. Until it be arranged otherwise, he was asked to carry on as the Bishop of Hong Kong and, in that capacity, to participate as far as possible in the concerns for the Church in China in collaboration with the Holy See. Subsequently, at the request of Cardinal Zen, the Holy See undertook consultations regarding the candidates for a Coadjutor.
27 May (Pentecost) Pope Benedict XVI issues a Letter to the Church in China, focusing on Church-State relations, Church communion, the appointment of bishops and some pastoral matters. The Holy Father also suggested that in the future, 24 May, the Memorial of Our Lady, Help of Christians, be for Catholics worldwide a day of prayer for the Church in China. A Chinese version was made available to the faithful by Cardinal Joseph Zen, SDB, who also gave several public talks to clarify the Pope’s Letter.
July In order to promote the religious formation of students in Catholic schools, the diocese endorsed a plan for a team of full-time, paid staff to be assigned to the office of the Diocesan Youth Commission, in support of lay pastoral workers in Catholic schools.
September-October Evangelization rallies and other activities were held in individual deaneries to celebrate the annual Mission Sunday.
October To enable the government to assess the merits of “school-based management” according to the model of “School Executive Committee” (recommended by the Education Commission Report No. 7 in 1997), Cardinal Joseph Zen entrusted The Hong Kong Institute for Education with conducting a survey. The survey would target those Catholic schools which had set up such a “Committee”, and several of them would be selected for in-depth studies.
21 October The Correctional Services Department held a Rehabilitation Fair at its Staff Training Institute, Stanley, to introduce the local NGOs at the service of serving and rehabilitated offenders. The “Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong Lay Prison Evangelical Organization” was the co-organizer and Bishop John Tong was one of the guests of honour.
3-13 November At the invitation of the diocese, Cardinal Jozef Tomko (唐高樞機) visited Hong Kong to conduct the annual retreat for clergy. He also gave a talk to lay people on Eucharistic veneration and met with men and women religious.
12 November Cardinal Joseph Zen, SDB, met with Michael Suen Ming-yeung (孫明揚), Secretary for Education, to exchange views on the possibility of granting more discretionary power to the diocese in respect of setting up the “Incorporated Management Committee” in Catholic schools, as prescribed by the “Education (Amendment) Ordinance 2004”. The government would try to consider such a possibility. On the other hand, the judicial review of the above Ordinance, as requested by the diocese, was scheduled for 13 March 2008.
12 December Following a controversial public consultation in the summer, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen submitted a report on the political reform of the SAR to the National People’s Congress Standing Committee. He indicated that more than half the Hong Kong people opted for universal suffrage (for elections of the Chief Executive and the Legco) by 2012 but that delaying its introduction until 2017 was more likely to secure the required two-thirds majority in the Legislative Council. The 2017 option would also appear to be more in line with the Basic Law’s principle of developing Hong Kong’s political system in a “gradual and orderly manner” (cf. Arts 45, 68).
2008 1 January St. Vincent’s Parish, Hang Hau, Kowloon, incorporated into St. Andrew’s Parish, Tseung Kwan O, Kowloon.

During this year –
1) The diocese considered various proposed amendments to the pastoral directives in the Pastoral Handbook (1982 ed.), in particular during the Study Camp for Clergy (2-4 January).
2) An Ad Hoc Committee, convened by Fr. Dominic Chan, VG, reviewed the two-year basic training programmes for lay catechists, as provided by the Diocesan Catechetical Centre, with the aim of improving the quality of lay catechists and their ongoing formation.
3) The diocese, through negotiations with the Education Bureau, tried as far as possible to obtain concessions for the setting up of the “incorporated Management Committee (IMC)” as prescribed by the “Education (Amendment) Ordinance 2004”. At the same time, the diocese prepared itself through legal consultations for the eventuality of having to settle the dispute by a judicial review of the said Ordinance. The SAR government required all schools, including Catholic schools, to form the IMC by 2012 at the latest.
4) The diocese joined other Christian concern groups by taking part in the public consultations of the government on amending the “Domestic Violence Ordinance” and the “Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance”. Through the formation programmes and publications of the Catholic Education Office, the Diocesan Pastoral Commission for Marriage and the Family, the Hong Kong Catholic Marriage Advisory Council, Caritas Family Service and other Catholic organizations, the diocese made efforts to promote sex education, the virtue of chastity and family life.

30 January

Bishop John Tong was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as Coadjutor Bishop of Hong Kong. A concelebrated Mass to invoke God’s blessings on Bishop Tong was held at the Cathedral on 10 February.

21 March (Good Friday)

The prayers and meditations for the Way of the Cross, le by Benedict XVI at the Colosseum, Rome, were composed by Cardinal Joseph Zen, SDB, at the request of the Pope.

10-11 April

The Pontifical Foreign Missions Institute celebrated its 150th anniversary in Hong Kong. So far a total of 207 PIME missionaries had preached or were still preaching the Gospel in Hong Kong.

12 May

Sichuan, China, was struck by a devastating earthquake, The diocese prayed in a special way for the victims and, for their emergency relief and the rehabilitation of the earthquake zones, launched a fundraising campaign lasting until the end of May in the following year.


General Council of the Columban Mission Society moved its headquarters from Dublin, Ireland, to Hong Kong.


After Chinese authorities expressed concern over security, the diocese had to cancel a pilgrimage to the Marian Shrine at Sheshan, Shanghai. A group of around 500 pilgrims from Hong Kong were supposed to be at the Shrine on 24 May, Memorial of Our Lady, Help of Christians, designated as a worldwide day of prayer for the Church in China by Pope Benedict XVI in his 2007 letter to the Church in China. Yet a diocesewide novena to Our Lady, Help of Christians, was organized to offer special prayers for the Church in China.

27 June

Cardinal Joseph Zen, SDB, with Bishop John Tong, made his first Ad Limina visit to Rome and had an audience with Benedict XVI. The Holy Father encourage the Diocese of Hong Kong to “continue your contribution to the life of the Church in China”.

29 June

The “Year of St. Paul” (28/6/2008-29/6/2009), which marked the bimillennium of the birth of the Apostle of the Gentiles, was inaugurated in our diocese with a Mass presided over by Bishop John Tong at the Cathedral.

15~20 July

The 23rd World Youth Day was held at Sydney, Australia, with about 500 Hong Kong participants among 400,000 young people from 170 countries.

8 August

Bishop John Tong and Bishop Jose Lai of Macau were invited by the Central Government to attend the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics in Beijing.

September Due to a newly introduced policy of the Pontifical Urbaniana University requiring the Baccalaureate in Philosophy to be a three-year programme instead of a two-year programme, the Holy Spirit Seminary College, which was affiliated with that University, stopped granting a B Ph degree (granted since 1976) because of a shortage of professors.  The two-year programme was retained.
20 September

The diocesan weekly in Chinese, Kung Kao Po. Celebrated its 80th  anniversary.

1 October The Paris Foreign Missions Society (MEP) celebrated the 350th anniversary of its foundation and of its missionary service in Asia.
12 October More than 7000 Catholics took part in the Mission Sunday celebration at Siu Sai Wan Sports Ground, Chaiwan, the main theme being “In the Footsteps of St. Paul”. There was a sharing session by some religious institutes and societies of Apostolic Life on their charisms and apostolates and a “Passing on the Faith Relay” to highlight the mission of Christians to preach the Gospel. The diocese held three other similar sharing sessions in October.
5~26 October Cardinal Joseph Zen, SDB, and Ms. Agnes Lam, President of the Hong Kong Catholic Biblical Association, attended the Synod of Bishops in Rome, the main theme being “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church”.

2nd Report (15/9/2005-14/9/2008) of the Post-Diocesan Synod Monitoring Committee, reviewing the implementation of the Synodal priorities by parishes.

27~30 November

14th Congress of Saian Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, on “Human Dignity in Modern Medicine”, was held in Hong Kong, hosted by the Guild of St. Luke, Ss. Cosmas and Damian, Hong Kong. It was attended by around 120 medical practitioners from more than ten Asian countries, and by Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, President of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Health Care.

4~8 December Official visit of Archbishop Robert Sarah, Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, to Hong Kong, at the invitation of Cardinal Joseph Zen, SDB.
6~7 December Celebrations of the 120th anniversary of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, following a year-long preparation.
14 December Bishop John Tong participated at a ceremony that marked the 30th anniversary of the “Joint Conference of Leaders of Six Religions”, which had been promoting local interreligious dialogues between Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Islam and the Christian and Catholic faiths.
24 December Cardinal Joseph Zen, SDB, confirmed that the Pope had accepted his retirement as Bishop of Hong Kong, to be effective in the first half of 2009. It was his aspiration that he would then be able to concentrate on issues relating to the Church in China.
2009 22 February

50th anniversary of the Hong Kong Central Council of Catholic Laity, with Cardinal Joseph Zen, SDB, present at its AGM, eucharistic celebration (Cathedral) and dinner; an evening variety show was held at Queen Elizabeth Stadium, Wanchai, on 28 February.

15 April Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation of Cardinal Joseph Zen, SDB, as diocesan Bishop for having reached the retirement age prescribed by Canon 401 §1; on the same day the Coadjutor, Bishop John Tong, became the seventh diocesan Bishop of Hong Kong.  After his retirement Cardinal Zen concentrated his attention on matters relating to the Church in China.
20 April

-    Fr. Michael Yeung, Fr. Dominic Chan and Fr. Pierre Lam, MEP, were appointed Vicars General.  Sticking to the current orientation, policies and practices of the diocese, Bishop John Tong did not introduce any major changes.

30 April

-    Eucharistic concelebration on the commencement of Bishop John Tong as diocesan Bishop.  It was held at the Cathedral and attended by more than two thousand members of the faithful.

24 May The Holy See issued a Compendium of the Letter of Pope Benedict XVI to the Church in China (27 May 2007).  Cardinal Joseph Zen, SDB, as member of the Pontifical Commission for China, published in November a Guide to the same Papal letter.  On 10 November, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, SDB, Secretary of State, addressed a letter to the priests in China, urging them to foster reconciliation and dialogue during the “Year for Priests”.
28 June

-    Closing ceremony of the Year of St. Paul at the Cathedral.

1 July

-    St. Ignatius Pastoral Zone, Yaumati, Kowloon, incorporated into St. Teresa’s Parish, Kowloon Tong.

 1 July

-    To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Mary Vianney, the Curé d'Ars, “Patron Saint of All Priests”, Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed a “Year for Priests” (19/6/2009-19/6/2010).
With a Pastoral Letter inspired by the “Year for Priests”, Bishop John Tong designated a “Year of Priestly Vocations” (1/7/2009-31/12/2010) for the diocese, with a view to (1) promoting priestly spirituality, ongoing formation and ministry, and (2) fostering priestly vocations, in particular vocations to be diocesan priests.

30 July In a TV interview, Bishop John Tong lent support to a Government plan for drug-testing which was supposed to be carried out promptly in schools.  However, he emphasized that the problems of drug addiction could only be resolved radically by encouraging young people to love and care for others, and inculcating them with a healthy outlook on life.  Bishop Tong’s view led to a wide debate among teachers, social workers, parents and students in the following months.  The Government came to realize that a plan, to be effective, must cover all aspects and be backed up by adequate resources.
17~18 November The diocese appealed against a negative decision of the Court of First Instance on 23 November 2006, in a judicial review of the “Education (Amendment) Ordinance 2004”.
18 November

-    The SAR Government issued the “Consultation Document on the Methods for Selecting the Chief Executive and for Forming the Legislative Council in 2012” and began a 3-month public consultation.  As a consequence of much dissatisfaction of the general public with the progress of democratization of the SAR, the League of Social Democrats and the Civic Party in mid-December opted for a “Legco resignation-for-referendum plan”, as a drastic means to press the government to speed up the process of democratization.  A decision of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee on 29 December 2007 allowed for universal suffrage for the election of the SAR Chief Executive in 2017 and of the Legco in 2020 at the earliest.